A footballer swallowed his tongue and stopped breathing during a match last night after a heavy blow to his head.

Chris Trevor, 24, was recovering at home today after being knocked unconscious shortly after half-time as Hailsham United took on East Grinstead.

The Sussex County League Division One match was halted for 25 minutes as frantic efforts were made to get the centre-forward breathing.

At one point keys were used to prise open his locked jaw to release his tongue.

Chris, who scored twice in East Grinstead's 3-1 win before the accident, fell awkwardly following an innocent challenge as he charged forward.

East Grinstead manager Bobby Smith said: "You could tell from the faces of the crowd something nasty had happened.

"We all expected him to have a broken limb or something. To see his face blue was really shocking."

Physios managed to open Chris's mouth and release his tongue before he was taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital. He was released late last night.

Mr Smith said: "Thankfully he is okay. Tests and X-rays all proved fine."

Chris, a former apprentice with Middlesbrough, lives in Crawley. He joined East Grinstead three years ago.

Hailsham manager Brian Dennis said: "He took a very nasty blow to his head following an innocent challenge.

"It was panic stations all round because we thought his tongue was stuck and he wasn't breathing.

"We couldn't get his mouth open and it was terrifying for everyone.

"Thankfully he came through and by the time he was in the ambulance he was talking but it was extremely distressing, particularly for the lad who made the challenge but it was in no way his fault."